By Melissa Donovan
Part one of two
Managed document and print services (MDS/MPS) help businesses better control their document management and output strategies. Many of the devices and software run on them today connect to the internet, making documents printed, copied, scanned, faxed, and shared vulnerable.
“Today, so many solutions in a production environment sit on or touch the internet—cloud-based web to print, makeready, and composition are a few examples. As technology continues to progress, even more aspects of the production process will likely do the same. That’s not something to fear, but it is something to pay attention to,” recommends Ryan Kiley, director U.S production sales and professional services, commercial and industrial printing group, Ricoh USA, Inc.
Implementing security measures to protect these solutions results in a well-controlled MDS/MPS strategy. Tools range from data encryption to whitelisting users and job logs that regularly record user data. The benefits are paramount, namely avoiding important data being stolen and used inappropriately.
Businesses are at a disadvantage when it comes to document security. According to Chris Bilello, director, business solutions and market development, Konica Minolta Business Solutions, U.S.A., Inc., the top two challenges are storage and securing documents within an organization on printing devices.
“As the volume and complexity of today’s threat landscape continues to grow, businesses are continually tasked with protecting confidential information across a spectrum of devices and environments. Although IT applies rigorous security across computers and networks, printing and imaging devices are often overlooked, increasing the likelihood an organization falls prey to hackers,” explains Shivaun Albright, chief technologist for print security, HP Inc.
Bilello notes that typically, documents located on a hard disk drive or solid state drive are easily secured by implementing some form of encryption. It is the same scenario for a document stored on a PC, laptop, or server-based storage. “By maintaining strong encryption policies on these devices, businesses can eliminate a large percentage of document storage liabilities,” he recommends.
There is a high risk of malicious attacks by hackers if certain security measures aren’t undertaken like changing or maintaining unique passwords. Additionally, most printers offer both wired and wireless network connections, providing hackers with multiple ways to hijack a device. Another vulnerability, says George Grafanakis, associate director, hardware product management, Sharp Imaging and Information Company of America, is a printer’s inbound and outbound email accounts, which can be used as malware vehicles for hackers.
Bilello warns that document security extends to printed documents as well, and this is where some of the greatest risks are taken. “Forgotten and abandoned prints introduce data security risks as well as wasted time, supplies, and money.”
“Many users print confidential company information and leave it on the exit tray of the printer until they get around to getting it. This makes it easy for anyone with malicious intentions to pick up the information and use it for their own gain,” agrees Grafanakis.
An additional security vulnerability that Bilello believes is routinely ignored is unauthorized usage by authorized users. “Specifically, authorized users using a device to print, copy, scan, email, or fax sensitive documents for which they are not authorized. As a result, data breaches occur and organizations are potentially liable either legally and/or financially due to important trade secrets, intellectual property information, customer/patient/employee data, or personally identifiable information being exposed.”
Not having a disaster recovery plan in place or maintaining security regularly with software updates also presents challenges. “Properly managing endpoints and resources in the organization and installing the latest patches and updates are important steps in protecting network security. This is a daily routine process that needs to be maintained. If you take your eye off the ball and one of these steps isn’t done, it can potentially cause a catastrophe,” cautions Grafanakis.
Addressing the Challenges
MDS and MPS help secure documents and the data found on them. Albright believes by equipping printers with advanced security features from both hardware and software, a business is able to protect the integrity of printed documents and confidential data.
One feature is an audit log function. Similarly, many devices offer built-in document log and breach notification systems. These record all user activity from copies and prints to scans and faxes. The approved user is able to manage everything from the printer, keywords and key data to breach alerts, according to Bilello.
Preventing a system attack is managed in multiple ways, says Grafanakis. Application whitelisting features detect attempts to machines and deny access if the source data is not on the whitelist. Self recovery modes are used to restore a machine’s firmware to its original state if a malicious intrusion occurs.
Another tool involves pull print functionality. “This is accomplished by enforcing secure printing workflows through requiring users to authenticate at their chosen printer before releasing jobs. The result is protected data, less waste, reduced potential for print-related breaches, and cost savings from print volume reduction,” explains Bilello.
Kiley cautions that the best processes aren’t enough if the staff of an organization aren’t trained properly on how to recognize security threats. That is when choosing the right MPS provider comes in handy. “Look for an MPS ally who is detail oriented, with a holistic view that helps employees see and head off potential threats.”
A Word About AI
Artificial intelligence (AI) is advancing automation by observing and cataloging important data. It is useful in MPS and MDS, and more importantly when security involved.
Kiley believes that as more solutions transition to the cloud, devices become more intelligent, and thus more data is aggregated. “Business intelligence and AI tools are applied to that data to learn more like how customers want to be communicated to or how to convert sales. Modern equipment creates even more detailed data like helping in predicting failures to improve uptime, response time, and parts availability. At the same time it learns other things like how to detect suspicious activity and either automatically addresses it or flags it for human review.”
“Perhaps the most biggest implementation of AI is biometric authentication, such as a fingerprint ID when walking up to a system. This method of user authentication is gaining in popularity since it provides strong walkup security and is easy to deploy,” explains Grafanakis.
Cybercriminals use AI and machine learning to attack vulnerable devices, Albright points out, so of course we should do the same to prevent these attacks. “By employing AI ad automation, we can use technology and innovation to dramatically reduce security risks for our customers.”
“AI plays a big role is document security and the technology is getting better every day. I believe this is only the tip of the iceberg for AI security and expect it will grow exponentially in the future,” notes Grafanakis.
There are many vulnerabilities in devices today thanks to the continuing advancements in technology and ever-evolving connectivity to the internet. Businesses need to be aware of these and leverage their MPS and MDS to combat security breaches.
“In a perfect world, confidential documents should stay confidential, but that’s not the reality we live in today. Every hacker, no matter how skilled, starts by finding the weakest entry point. Without adequate monitoring of a printer fleet, security blind spots remain undetected and could easily lead to exposed customer data, stolen identities and competitive information, tarnished brand image, and ultimately, result in heavy fines,” warns Albright.
The second article in this two-part series looks at various security features found in vendors’ MPS and MDS.
May2020, DPS Magazine